I've been watching the Rays since their first game in 1998 and I cannot remember a stranger game in their history.
Lineup card mistakes, strange calls, and high emotions filled the Trop on Sunday. R.J. is going to have more later about the lineup card gaffe and Andy Sonnanstine's performance later. I'm here to talk about B.J. Upton, Kerry Wood and Troy Percival.
With two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning and his team trailing by two runs Indians' Manager Eric Wedge brought in closer Kerry Wood. Even though Wood hadn't pitched all series it wasn't like he had gone a week without throwing, so bringing him into this situation was puzzling. The puzzle was solved when, facing series hero B.J. Upton, Wood threw the first pitch behind him. B.J. took a stroll around the batter's box to gather his thoughts, then dug in for Wood's second offering. The pitch was well inside and if Wood had any type of control would have hit Upton. At this point the home plate umpire should have immediately ejected Wood. If you remember in last night's Angels vs Rangers game John Lackey was ejected two pitches into the game for doing the exact same thing as Wood, yet in this instance not even a warning was given. Joe Maddon became furious and began screaming at the umpire. This cause Indian catcher Victor Martinez to, for some reason, start jawing at Maddon. Carl Crawford ran out of the dugout in defense of his manager, and that's when the benches started to clear. Hell, even Pat Burrell grabbed a jersey and started to put it on so he wouldn't miss out on any possible action. No punches were thrown and everything eventually settled down, but with no ejections. How Kerry Wood was not ejected from the game is beyond me. If Bobby Jenks gets fined $750 for throwing behind a batter, and Lackey gets ejected for doing the identical thing Wood did, how in the world does Wood get off scott free? Upton eventually walked and Wood retired Crawford to end the inning, but not before he caused a big uproar for no reason what so ever. After the first pitch to Upton it was clear what Eric Wedge's intent was in bringing Wood into the game. Here's hoping MLB sees things for what they are and gives Wedge a suspension and fines Wood.
I've been the biggest Troy Percival basher on this site all season long, always so quick to point out when he makes mistakes. When he does well, I'm going to give the fat man the love he deserves. Percival came in to save the game in the 9th inning and promptly slammed the door in the Indians' collective face. Percival's first batter was Mark DeRosa, who quickly fell behind 0-2. Now I don't know if he did it on purpose, it didn't look like it, but on the next pitch Percival threw up and in, hitting DeRosa on the hand. Eric Wedge came out to argue that Percival should be ejected because he was given a warning prior to the start of the inning. Wedge's compliants fell on deaf ears. Percival wouldn't hit a batter when that would bring the tying run to the plate...at least I don't think. Percival would continue to pitch inside, striking out the next two batters and get Jamey Carroll to line out to Carl Crawford to end the game. Save. Ball game. Rays win.
After watching that game I feel like I've just ran a marathon. I'm emotionally drained. It's starting to feel a lot like 2008 around here.